Jewellery chain settles prices that it ripped off navy personnel

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Gavel and money
Photograph (c) serggn – Getty Pictures

Harris Jewellery, a nationwide retail chain, has agreed to settle prices introduced by the Federal Commerce Fee (FTC) and officers from 18 states. Regulators claimed that the corporate used misleading gross sales techniques in opposition to U.S. active-duty service personnel.

Below the phrases of the settlement, the corporate pays $1 million to the 18 states and supply $34 million in compensation to affected shoppers.

The grievance accused Harris Jewellery of deceptively advertising and marketing overpriced, poor-quality jewellery to members of the armed forces and together with “safety plans” within the value with out disclosing it.

In line with the FTC, the corporate falsely informed prospects that financing jewellery purchases by Harris would increase servicemembers’ credit score scores. As a part of the settlement, the corporate agreed to cease accumulating $21 million in excellent debt.

Violation of the Army Lending Act

The grievance additionally features a cost that the jewellery firm violated the Army Lending Act (MLA), the primary time the FTC has taken motion underneath that regulation. Below the MLA, rates of interest charged to navy personnel are capped at 36% APR.

“At present’s motion in opposition to Harris Jewellery exhibits that firms that focus on our nation’s service members with false guarantees and misleading gross sales practices will face critical penalties,” stated Samuel Levine, director of the FTC’s Bureau of Client Safety. 

New York Legal professional Basic Letitia James led the 18 states’ investigation and known as the corporate’s advertising and marketing efforts “abhorrent.” She stated the Hauppauge, N.Y.-based firm purposely situated its retail shops close to navy bases.

“Harris Jewellery claimed to serve and help our troops, however its enterprise practices had been completely self-serving,” James stated. “For years, Harris Jewellery misled navy members and saddled them with hundreds of {dollars} of debt.”

James additionally stated the corporate charged as a lot as $349 for a safety plan for its merchandise however didn’t disclose the cost to the client.  She stated she acquired complaints about stones falling out of their settings, chains breaking, and the end on the jewellery fading.

‘Operation Teddy Bear’

James led a multi-state investigation that discovered servicemembers had been enticed into retail shops by a advertising and marketing scheme dubbed “Operation Teddy Bear.” The scheme allegedly concerned promoting teddy bears in navy uniforms whereas promising charitable donations. 

The investigation found there was no authorized contract between the corporate and Operation Troop Help, Inc., which Harris supposedly claimed to help. James stated shoppers had been typically given various and conflicting details about the quantity donated to the charity. 

Below the consent order, Harris Jewellery will contact shoppers entitled to refunds for the safety plans and should additionally submit a discover on its web site concerning the availability of refunds. Customers who’ve particular questions on acquiring redress could contact the New York State Legal professional Basic’s Workplace at (315) 523-6080.  


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